LAS VEGAS — Oohs and ahhs showered throughout Vivint Arena as members of the Utah Jazz warmed up for their Summer League finale versus Atlanta on July 5.
All eyes were on a 6-foot-5, 198-pound Caucasian kid out of Duke.
Jazz rookie Grayson Allen delivered a windmill jam, then a through-the-legs slam followed by a non-traditional 360-degree dunk that even prompted Donovan Mitchell, the NBA’s reigning slam dunk champ, to jump out of his seat to capture the moment on his phone.
“I threw down the first one and I heard the crowd’s reaction,” Allen said. “I didn’t realize they were all watching, so then the guys were hyping me up a little bit and it gave me a little adrenaline.”
Traditionally, white men can’t jump, right? At least according to the 1992 film starring Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson.
But that’s not the case with Allen, who possesses a 40.5-inch max vertical leap.
He once again displayed his hops with two highlight slams in Utah’s 98-90 loss to the Miami Heat during Tuesday’s NBA Summer League game in Sin City.
According to Chuck Millan, Mitchell’s dunk coach, Allen is the better routine leaper of the former college rivals-turned-Jazz teammates.
“He’s a better contest dunker than Donovan is,” Millan told the Deseret News. “Donovan’s my guy but Grayson’s more of a contest dude. He’s been in a lot of these and I think he’s pretty much won every one he’s been in, to be honest.
“He can go off one foot and two feet so he can do a lot more than most people can so his repertoire is a lot bigger.”
As the man who developed Mitchell’s routine for the 2018 slam dunk contest in Los Angeles, Millan would certainly know. Millan has 15 years in the business of helping leapers showcase their best moves as the founder of Team Flight Brothers.
Millan also previously worked with Allen to help him win the 2014 American Family Insurance High School Slam Dunk Contestat Duncanville High School in Texas. One of Allen’s moves was a Karl Malone type windmill, where he finished with his hand behind his head.
Millan flew in hours before the show and received a call from a random North Carolina area code with some specific orders.
“I don’t even know why I answered. I think it called twice like an hour before the contest,” Millan said. “It was like the hypest crowd of all time.”
That personal call came from legendary Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.
“I would really appreciate it if he didn’t jump over any people because I don’t want him to get hurt before he gets here,” Krzyzewski told Millan.
And of course those orders were followed before Allen went on to enjoy a solid four-year career at Duke, which included winning a national title in 2015.
The Jazz then selected Allen with the 21st overall pick in this year’s draft and NBA fans are now becoming aware of one of Durham, North Carolina’s biggest secrets of the last four years: Allen has bounce.
Obviously, Mitchell is the reigning slam dunk champ, but if presented the same opportunity, Allen said he would certainly accept.
“Yeah, definitely I would participate if I got picked for that,” Allen told the Deseret News of potentially competing.
J.R. Smith and Chris Andersen were the last NBA teammates to appear in the same dunk contest together in 2005 as members of the New Orleans Hornets. Former Toronto Raptors teammates Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter were other notable ones in 2000.
Allen’s pregame dunk show in Salt Lake City was just a teaser; he certainly has more up his sleeve.6 comments on this story
“Let’s keep it real. If you go to the gym and you run into Grayson Allen and then you run into Donovan Mitchell and you’re like ‘Yo, who you got in a dunk contest?’ and obviously he doesn’t look like he’s that athletically gifted,” Millan said. “At the same time, (Allen) has been in the spotlight for so long that people know he’s athletic but maybe they just don’t know what he can do but his repertoire could be insane. He’s a freak athlete and definitely people underestimate him.”